Thawing Chicken


There are several methods that can be used for thawing fresh frozen chicken. Chicken should never be thawed out on the kitchen counter. Use one of the methods described below.

Refrigerator -
Thawing Time: 5 hours per pound
(Recommended Method) Thawing chicken in the refrigerator is the slowest but safest method you can use. The temperature of the refrigerator should be maintained at 35°F to 40°F to discourage growth of harmful organisms as the chicken thaws. Leave the chicken wrapped and place on a platter or a tray to catch the drippings as it thaws.
Cold Water
Thawing Time: 1 hour per pound

Thawing the chicken in cold water is a faster method than thawing in the refrigerator, but the proper precautions must be taken when using this thawing method. Fill the sink with enough cold tap water to cover the chicken and place the wrapped chicken in the water. The water should be changed every 30 minutes. Do not use warm water, even though it will thaw the chicken faster, it will also cause the growth of bacteria. Do not use this sink for other purposes during thawing period and be sure the thawing water does not splash onto other preparation surfaces or food. Once the chicken is thawed, remove it from the sink and clean all utensils and surfaces affected during the thawing period with hot water and soap.

See manual for defrosting times
Thawing chicken in a microwave is a quick method but is not recommended because of the difficulty in determining the proper defrosting time. Defrosting times vary according to different microwaves and according to the form of chicken (whole or pieces) you are thawing. Chicken should be loosely wrapped during microwaving. Generally it is best to start out by microwaving at a defrost or medium-low setting for 2 minutes and then letting the chicken stand for 2 minutes before checking progress. Turn the chicken and repeat this procedure if needed, being carefully that the meat does not start to cook. Thawing large items in the microwave does not work well and should be avoided, if possible.

Other Thawing Guidelines

  • Be sure the chicken, particularly a large whole bird, is defrosted thoroughly to ensure proper cooking. Place a hand inside the cavity of the chicken to check for ice crystals. If there are any present, more thawing time is needed.
  • Thawed chicken should be cooked as soon as possible. If not using immediately, store in the refrigerator and use within 24 hours of thawing.
  • Remove the giblets from the cavity of a whole chicken as thawing allows.
  • It is safe to refreeze chicken once it has been cooked but some of its quality will be lost.
  • While thawing, be sure that drippings do not contaminate other food or preparation surfaces.

Thawing Chicken Reviews

thawing chicken

Average of 5.00 out of 5 stars
Rating of 5 out of 5.0 stars
Ratings (3)
Comments (1)
Renee P.
Comment By
"This is good and the thawing times per pound is helpful. Here is another resource with a video that I found helpful: http://www.perdue.com/how-to/freezing-and-thawing/"
jturner User
Rating of 5 out of 5.0 stars
Reviewed By
"Was glad I found this information. I forgot to take my chicken out of the freeze a head of time to thaw in the refrigerator and I knew I shouldn't thaw it at room temperature. I used the cold water method and it took a few hours but it was thawed in plenty of time to fix it for our supper."
GrannyGrunt User
Rating of 5 out of 5.0 stars
Reviewed By
"I usually thaw my chicken at room temperature. After reading this article I will think twice about that. I am going to have to change my ways!"
cantcook User
Rating of 5 out of 5.0 stars
Reviewed By
"Interesting information. I didn't know that how you thawed a chicken was so important. I will be more careful in the future."
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